Veteran Stories:
Douglas Sydney Kirk

Navy

  • A Section of Morning Divisions Marching Off to Classes. Those are their huts in rear.
    Post Card bought by Doug Kirk in Canteen at HMCS Cornwallis, 1943.

    Doug Kirk
  • "Old Mike", HMCS Cornwallis' Mascot.
    Post Card bought by Doug Kirk in Canteen at HMCS Cornwallis, 1943.

    Doug Kirk
  • Officers and Crew HMCS Meon. Doug Kirk is Upper Left.

    Doug Kirk
  • Doug Kirk, 20 years old, on HMCS Meon.

    Doug Kirk
  • Doug Kirk's Wrist Bracelet, 1943.

    Kirk Douglas
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"We lost three ships. They were on the bottom and so, Captain Balfour ordered us to go up and down and just drop depth charges at random to try and keep the submarine from sinking any more ships."

Transcript

In the latter years of the war, they became very bold. One time when we were bringing a convoy up from Boston, we were bringing 19 ships up to Halifax. Halifax and Bedford Basin was the point where all the convoys, that and St. John’s, but the major convoys formed up in Halifax Harbour; 70, 80 ships at a time with suitable escorts. So the submarines were very dense between Boston and Halifax because that’s where they could most likely contact convoy ships.

A cold Sunday morning, 14 January 1945, we were bringing 19 ships up from Boston. We got half of them into Halifax Harbour, past Sambro Lightship [moored ship used like a floating lighthouse], when a submarine sank three of the remaining ships outside of the Sambro Lightship. Now, that’s how brazen they were getting, that they would attack you practically right in your harbour. Finally, Captain Balfour, who was the captain of HMCS Meon, he was in charge of the convoy at this point. The Americans who had accompanied us had turned back and gone to Boston when we lost these ships. We lost three ships. They were on the bottom and so, Captain Balfour ordered us to go up and down and just drop depth charges at random to try and keep the submarine from sinking any more ships. You know, we might get lucky but they would be taking evasive action. So, that was the end of the sinking of the ships.

We got the rest of the convoy in and it was a Sunday morning; and Captain Balfour asked for permission to fuel up and go back out and see if he could make contact with the sub, who might be still in the area. That’s what we did on the Sunday morning. There was no food jetty opened, being Sunday. I don’t know why. There was a war on but, they didn’t seem to know that.

We got fuel, the five ships, there were five ships in a group, started out on Sunday afternoon looking for this submarine. We got further and further out into the ocean. We had damaged the sub when we were dropping these charges. One of our escorts nearly rammed it. He went over the top of it and felt the great bump. He thought he had gone aground, hit the periscope and damaged it; and the snorkel equipment was damaged as well. The submarine, it was trying to get back to Germany and it had to surface because the snorkel equipment was damaged. So at night, it came to the surface. The big radar installations in Boston and Newfoundland gave us a bearing on it, and we proceeded to that point. Meanwhile, the submarine had charged his batteries and gone down again, and was proceeding across the Atlantic Ocean. We finally caught up with them after several days of following him and him having to come to the surface every night, and we got a new location for him. There were 120 officers and men on five ships. So there were approximately 600 men out there. We believed we got the sub. He released oil and all kinds of stuff as they do and they even sent up body parts, which they saved and sent up to throw us off the trail and think the fight was over. But we thought we had got him but, after the war, we found out that he had survived.

And we were out nearly the mid-Atlantic by this time. We were out of food. Captain ordered a depth charge under a large school of fish, halibut. We placed a deep charge so that it stunned the fish, it didn’t kill them. Suddenly, the whole surface was covered with stunned fish which we scooped up onto our deck and our cooks were filleting them; and we were eating fresh halibut out of the Atlantic Ocean. It was the most delicious food I’ve ever eaten in my life because I was kind of hungry too.

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